It was a fine afternoon in December, when Lumley Ferrers turned from Lord Saxingham's door. The knockers were muffled—the windows on the third story were partially closed. There was sickness in that house. As Lumley leapt from his horse at his uncle's door, the disorder and bustle of those demesnes, in which the severe eye of the master usually preserved a repose and silence as complete as if the affairs of life were carried on by clockwork, struck upon him sensibly. Upon the trim lawn the old women employed in cleaning and weeding the walks were all assembled in a cluster, shaking their heads ominously in concert, and carrying on their comments in a confused whisper.